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Title: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 15, 2010, 02:58:42 PM
On Thursday the 12 I and 3 friends started up a short run of Freemarket.  I am scheduled to run it at an upcoming convention and wanted to get familiar with play procedures.

I hope to draw some conclusions from our 3 sessions of play.  As of now, I haven't developed any noteworthy insights into the game.  Our 1st session reminded me of some persistent habits that still get in the way of my gaming.

Character Creation
Pre game discussion had led to some pretty strong character concepts.  Fixing the details took time though.  Each step of character creation allows players to introduce Color elements about their PCs, Color which serves as cross-player inspiration for the next steps.  Having everyone work out and then present each part of their character (general concept, genetic substrata, etc.) did'nt create major deviations from originally announced concepts but bolted the characters more closely together and to the setting.

The characters:
* Caecilia (played by S) is a mystical zen inventor
* Koruto Uesuton (played by R) is a military otaku/weapons manufacturer
* Ninja 12 (B) is a ninja delivery girl (vat grown, part of a 12-pak, gifted away by her father because she is too accident prone to work with the clan)
* Maqqam McConnel is a jazz musician linguist (and NPC created by myself so that I could get familiar with the character creation process.  But my habit of trying to put pressure on player-side decisions made itself manifest.  I wanted them to have a proficient Ephemerist even if it should have been them who decided if they needed one or not.

[McConnel was a tribute to recently departed Canadian jazz great Rob McConnel]

MRCZ Creation
An in-game "tribe" or "clan" or "corporation" or "pirate ship" that your characters form to carry out some collective goal or to provide a network that will allow you to realize your personal goals.  From the tribes and herobands of Heroquest 1.0 to the pirate ships of Poison'd and the party of WHFRP3, the idea of a collective mega-PC is an interesting new trend that deserves further thought.

The players came up with the following MRCZ:

X-Altar (track its changes at http://donut.wikia.com/wiki/X-Alter):

Level: Tier 1 (starting level
Purpose:
    * Provide intense, unique, and transformative adventure experiences
Background:
    * X-Altar is a newly formed MRCZ.
Tags:
    * Flooding/Bleeding
    * Analog
    * Carnival of Pain
Needs:
    * Sexy specialist
    * Tout
    * Space

I believe I maintained proper tact here and let the players come up with the concept for their mini-corporation.  I did put my foot down and rule out a name that would have been to unwieldy ("Exxxtreeeeeeeme!!!").  But they themselves came up with a MRCZ whose activities center on the creation/deletion/modification of individual memories (using a skill called Flooding/Bleeding) rather than on media communication (produced by the skill Ephemera).  Some commentators worry that creating the intensely self-defined and self-modified PCs first and then forcing them to get together in a group would create chaos but ours worked really well.

Note: the group is not a bunch of ruthless min-maxers.  They could have made all sorts of choices about character or MRCZ to make sure that they started off with a high in-game currency called "flow."  They were more interested in creating concepts that jibed together.

Finishing Character Creation

After you create your character and your MRCZ you return to the character one more time.  At this point you decide the characters' important memories.  People who keep saying MRCZs should be designed first to prevent incoherence are missing the feedback loop to ensure that Color is consistent:  character --> MRCZ --> character.

If you can't understand why your Yoga instructor is hooking up with designers of military-grade exoskelletons, memories of pre-game events are a great way to do it.  And this all comes about by feeding off of each other's Colour.

These were the memories as they stood at the end of the game.  The players uniformly turned in game experiences into short term memories.

Koruto Uesuton
Long Term
- As a boy, I watched a different war film every day in my parent's theatre
- Dr. Krauss, Martian War Veteran, taught me how to implant military grade mobs
- The Mechanical Baristas stole my flamethrower mob and turned it into a whipped cream dispenser

Caecilia
Long Term
- During my first acid trip with the Pink Chrysanthemum MRCZ at the Shu Temple, I realised I'm made of the same stuff as the universe and am the universe.
- I escaped the Saturn Orbiter Disaster with Tekla the Podiatrist
- I rejected the legendary seducer Maqqam

Ninja12
Long Term
- I was traded to Colt out my set by Master because I kept coming out left-handed
- Ryoshi told me I had a special walk and I shadowed him aroudn the station for a year
- Yesterday, a new immigrant gave me a package to deliver but left the station before giving instruction to whom

The System
Ohhboy did I make some gaffes.
1) No Love for McConnel
Firstly, I started off a Shaping challenge (body language) without actually having the skill.  I had a piece of technology that could assist me in doing such a challenge.  However, I had made the mistake of thinking that all items on my character sheet can serve as resources for the Intention, Initiation, or resolution of a conflict.  That ain't the way it works in Freemarket.  I either activate one of my experiences OR some aspect of my geneline to start the conflict.  You can engage technology in a second phase of conflict resolution but you can't start that way.  A neat bit of game design that feeds into the overall goal of a science fiction game that doesn't fetishize your gear list.
  McConnel tried to seduce Caecilia to get over a recent bad break up.  As this was just a "give the system a shake" session we hadn't really built up emotional stakes in the fictional world.  So I dug into the values of one of the players. S is a self-described "queer nerdy girl" and so having a fictional male character engage her fictional female PC was a bit of mind-gamery on my part to get her to step on up and work at preventing an outcome that she as a player would find disappointing.  A bit obnoxious?  I still wonder.  S bounced the ball back in my court by adding a stake during the hi-risk resolution of a tied resolution: McConnel stood to walk out of the conflict questioning his own sexuality.  She won the contest by a sliver.  Good play on S's part but I hope the mindgamery didn't overstep the bounds of friendship.
2) Ninja 12, Where are You?
Ninja 12 used a bit of tech to help her find out the name of the person to whom she was supposed to deliver a package.  I flubbed the narration of the result.  She used a neat piece of hearing technology to pick at a high frequency hum on the device.  I came up with a cockamamey explanation as to how she was able to decipher words from this hum.  But in a game with super-sophisticated tech it is hard to set limits on what characters can and cannot do without coming across like you are trying to censor the fiction.  A little more care next time.
3) Military Otaku Colt practices Cultivating (making or growing instead of asking the computer to print something out).  He came up with some ninja throwing stars, with the tags: Wetwork, throwing stars, shiny (the GM got to add a 3rd tag).  He gifted them to Ninja 12's father and earned a 10 point flow bonus.

Next session I will try to run some in-game challenges rather than rely on person-to-person mind gaming and -- now that I know the system -- will try to run some competitive conflicts.

More later.







Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 16, 2010, 07:25:08 AM
The "and the Arts of Memory and Promotion" refers to my agenda for the next few sessions.

I want to engage the game's fiction and mechanics for memories, especially in relationship to the game's fiction and mechanics for dealing with the spread of ideas.

Memories are singular.  They originate in a character -- that character's player (the player "user" or the GM "superuser") describes either a long-term or short-term memory.  Characters can carry about a maximum of 3 of each at any one time.  At the start of a session a player may move a memory up into an "Experience" (the skills characters use).  The Flooding/Bleeding Experience allows a use to manipulate the memories.

Our MRCZ isn't interested in producing Ephemera that effect a whole community.  They want to enhance/change/remove the memories of individuals and gain a reputation for that.  But they are attempting to build a public reputation for a private experience, and clients will (should?  perhaps?) want exclusivity. 

I will engage this fiction and the mechanics in a more focused fashion next session.


Title: "Memory Mash UP"
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 17, 2010, 04:14:48 PM
The rules ask you to take a place, a person, and an object and combine them in a sentence that establishes a challenge for a user to face in an upcoming session.  Then the person involved in the challenge should be given a motivation to interact with a user, that person should also be tied to a MRCZ, and any places should be turned into locations on the stages.  The challenge can also represent a re-take on a previous memory. 

Here is my mashup

_________________________

Caecilia (S) is a mystical zen inventor
- Place: Uesuton's old theatre
- Person: "Sa," the recipient of the lethal package from the mysterious immigrant
- Object: Flamethrower mob
- Challenge:
- Memory Being Entangled: "I rejected the legendary seducer McCaam"

Koruto Uesuton (R) is a military otaku/weapons manufacturer
- Place: Saturn
- Person: The Master Ninja
- Object: Saturn Orbiter
- Challenge:
- Memory Being Entangled: "Dr. Krauss, Martian War Veteran, taught me how to implant military grade mobs"

Ninja 12 (B) is a ninja delivery girl
- Place: Dr. Phybes's Clockwork Coffetorium
- Person: Ryoshi
- Object: Pink Chrysanthemum acid
- Challenge
- Memory Being Entangled: Ryoshi told me I had a special walk and I shadowed him around the station for a year

Actually, the challenges will need more thought.  Any suggestions?



Title: Completing the Mash-Up
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 18, 2010, 01:22:20 AM
Caecilia (S) is a mystical zen inventor
- Place: Uesuton's old theatre
- Person: "Sa," the recipient of the lethal package from the mysterious immigrant
- Object: Flamethrower mob
- Challenge: Sa was imperfectly deathed by the package delivered by Ninja 12.  Sa is looking for revenge and wants to learn the name of the immigrant who sent it AND to deliver payback using the Flamethrower mob created by Koruto.  He wants Caecilia's help in getting both.  He picked Caecilia as the X-Altar member to approach because of the way she kept Maqqam in line.  Sa's MRCZ, Sportsplex1 has the space X-Altar might need for a large-scale event.
- Memory Being Entangled: "I rejected the legendary seducer Maqqam"

Koruto Uesuton (R) is a military otaku/weapons manufacturer
- Place: Mars
- Person: Tekla the Podiatrist
- Object: Saturn Orbiter
- Challenge: Tekla barely survived a recent disaster with the Saturn Orbiter observatory pod.  The SOjurners, the MRCZ whose project the Orbiter was, are recycling the residual tech.  They need help in creating mobs to help them with their new Orbiter project, one that requires military-grade technology.  A martian immigrant, Tekla knew of Krauss on Mars and figures that his pupil will be able to help her out.  The analog nature of X-Altar's technology is of great interest to the SOjurners.
- Memory Being Entangled: "Dr. Krauss, Martian War Veteran, taught me how to implant military grade mobs"

Ninja 12 (B) is a ninja delivery girl
- Place: Dr. Phybes's Clockwork Coffetorium
- Person: Ryoshi
- Object: Pink Chrysanthemum acid
- Challenge: Ryoshi is back in Ninja 12's life.  He has become a flat-liner, with no MRCZ to engage him.  He is however, willing to trade some of his memories for a service: Ninja 12 has to break into the Shu temple and get him the Chrysanthemum acid, which the Temple reserves only for participants in its religious rites.  Ryoshi has some odd memories about violence, disorientation, and danger that might be of interest to X-Altar.
- Memory Being Entangled: Ryoshi told me I had a special walk and I shadowed him around the station for a year

Looks like I still have some prep to do: stat out my superuser characters and their MRCZs.

I was going to kick off the session with my NPC McConnel engaging the MRCZ on some flooding/bleeding.  But that is too "GM-side."  The rules say build challenges out of the players' memories and follow the rules I shall, rather than relying on stock techniques acquired from other games.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Paul T on August 20, 2010, 12:25:00 PM
Erik,

We played a hacked version of Lady Blackbird together about a month ago!

I enjoyed this Actual Play report, and it sounds like you and your friends are having a good time with Freemarket. I don't have enough experience with the game to add anything terribly intelligent, but I'm posting to say that I'm very pleasantly surprised to see a in-game tribute to Rob McConnell. Too many people don't know who he was!

Thanks.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 20, 2010, 01:03:55 PM
We will see how things go tonight.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 21, 2010, 11:53:49 AM
Hi Erik,

Today is my love-letter to Jared on the Forge, apparently. I've composed posts about InSpectres, Lacuna, and now Freemarket in the space of two hours.

I was greatly disappointed not to be able to participate in a real Freemarket demo at GenCon, due to time issues and fatigue. Jared and I were both so beleaguered with customers and chit-chat that we couldn't spend much time despite being booth-neighbors. The little I got to do only made me interested in doing more.

Here's my question: what sort of play or approach to GMing really puts pressure on the characters? And as I see it, a related question: does it matter to anyone what memories become concrete, aside from gaining better chances at succeeding with later resolutions?

I know that when I get around to playing, I plan to do it quite seriously and long-term. So these questions are practical; I want to get an idea of what I should be able to expect. I guess I'm asking whether memories are important in a thematic and creative sense, and whether as GM I should be pushing hard along these lines. As I'm seeing it now, which is admittedly minimal, Freemarket is starting to look like a fruitful cross between Bugtown (http://www.matthowarth.com/bugtown.php) from Those Annoying Post Bros and le mon mouri (see my threads Beef injection: Sean Demory's Le Mon Mouri (http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=1913.0), Two [censored] at once! (http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=5339.0), [Le Mon Mouri / kill puppies] Dang! (http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=5464.0), and Dang #3 (Le Mon Mouri) (http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=5692.0) from ages ago).

Let me know if I'm totally off-base about this.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 21, 2010, 04:56:38 PM
Quote
Here's my question: what sort of play or approach to GMing really puts pressure on the characters? And as I see it, a related question: does it matter to anyone what memories become concrete, aside from gaining better chances at succeeding with later resolutions?

Memories matter.  Ninja 12 got around to visiting an old pal who had gone "flatline" -- living in a capsule hotel, taking what he needs from a simple food and clothing printer, but not engaging in station life.  He was willing to give up some bizarre recent memories in return for access to some exclusive drugs.  So Ninja 12 took him back to X-Altar headquarters.  Ninja 12 was willing to keep one of these memories alive in a long-term memory slot.  Caecilia was willing to host one as well.  But Kotoru balked.  Again, in-game and meta-game language mash into each other A LOT during this game, I wasn't sure if it was the player voicing thoughts through his character, or it was the player himself speaking, but he said something like "I don't want weird stuff like that in my head or to have me think that I was the one suffering that weirdness."  He took the memory and broke it down into 3 points of Data for later use.  The choice of having your character now think "I was the one who witnessed a deranged slaughter by the Leopard Knights MRCZ" is a difficult one.  Carrying around a memory that you don't like is like being a surrogate mother for a couple that you despise. 

Quote
I know that when I get around to playing, I plan to do it quite seriously and long-term.

Even by session two, people had started to grok the mechanics in an intuitive way.  It didn't take much time.  People started realizing how that losing a challenge got them bug chips for later challenges and they started weighing their options more carefully.  They also got hooked into the practice of exchanging long-term memories for improvements to their skillset. Maybe by session three they would have gotten into the habit of jotting down little short term memories for possible promotion into long-term ones.  Once they started to see how I did my scenario prep out of their long-term memories, they might have been more conscious of their decisions.  And they were ready for a MRCZ tier challenge by session three or four.  My bet is that by session six they would have been able to balance immediate challenge mechanics, mid-term reward mechanics, end/start of session mechanics, and strategies for medium and long-term play.  Every player had at least a digital copy of the rules.  But as with the Burning games there is no substitute for stepping into the mechanics and FEEL how they start changing your behaviour as a gamer.

Advice:
- remember that a tie means that you start again with new cards.  Don't make the mistake I did and think that previous cards still counted for margins of victory
- always remember to set flow costs AND to make flow setting part of the fiction.  On several occasions I just started tossing out cards to see who won the conflict.  Nuh-unh.  Offering a flow bid, reacting to a flow bid, mustering flow as you try to accomplish some go and the Aggregate or interested parties watch -- these are all happening in the fiction and that fictional reality can only be supported by following the rules


Quote
So these questions are practical; I want to get an idea of what I should be able to expect. I guess I'm asking whether memories are important in a thematic and creative sense, and whether as GM I should be pushing hard along these lines.
Quote

I have never looked at the games you cite at the end of your post, so I can't comment.

But absolutely concentrate on memories.  I was doing prep before the session and coming up with all sorts of loopy conspiratorial connections between the memories my players had assigned their "users."  But when I was superusing during the session I just played up my challenges to the memories and NOT the elaborate backstory I had created for them.  That stimulated the players into pursuing their own goals.

Examples to follow in subsequent post.



Title: Re: [Freemarket] Examples of Memories used to create conflict
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 21, 2010, 05:18:29 PM
Arggh!  A computer feeb should not mess with HTML tags!

Let's address memories and play:
   
Quote
Caecilia (S) is a mystical zen inventor
- Place: Uesuton's old theatre
- Person: "Sa," the recipient of the lethal package from the mysterious immigrant
- Object: Flamethrower mob
- Challenge: Sa was imperfectly deathed by the package delivered by Ninja 12.  Sa is looking for revenge and wants to learn the name of the immigrant who sent it AND to deliver payback using the Flamethrower mob created by Koruto.  He wants Caecilia's help in getting both.  He picked Caecilia as the X-Altar member to approach because of the way she kept Maqqam in line.  Sa's MRCZ, Sportsplex1 has the space X-Altar might need for a large-scale event.
- Memory Being Entangled: "I rejected the legendary seducer Maqqam"

In this case I took a person from Ninja 12's memories, an object from Koruto, and a place from Koruto's past.  But Sa's desire to get Caecilia to work with him was motivated by a short-term memory from the past session that S, Caecilia's player, had bumped up to long-term.

Seeing the player make the choice of bumping up a memory to long-term is a good clue about what the superuser should be latching onto.

S. played Caecilia as being concerned that Sa had some sort of romantic attraction to Caecilia but I had Sa express simply and plainly that it was the way she confronted the emotional manipulation that made him think her a trustworthy person.

When Caecilia and Sa showed up at the MRCZ they were engaged by the other users right away.  B. played Ninja 12 as both wary of Sa and unwilling to co-operate in divulging any information about the person who had sent the lethal package (ninja deliveryperson ethics and all that).  R. continued to flesh out Kotoru by suggesting an alternative for the Flamethrower Mob, the Acid Spitball mob (Tags: wetwork/acid spit sacs/occasional backfire [the tag I added]).  Kotoru had a memory about the Mechanical Barista's demeaning his lethal mob by using it to make frothy coffee drinks, and had decided that this mob was no longer cool.  And Caecilia role played convincing her MRCZ mates to help her help Sa.  I just sat back and watched S. do this in character.  She argued quite persuasively about how helping Sa would help the MRCZ accomplish its goals.  Now, her character won an in-game reward of 5 Flow for making this happen.  So there was a satisfying parallelism between Caecilia's fictional engagement of her MRCZ mates, S.'s intelligent persuasion of R. and B. for going along with her plans, the in-game granting of flow for completion of a negotiation and the currency reward for S.'s choices as a player.

Now, did the players learn the details about the connection between Sa's involvement with nasty activities on Mars and an anarcho-terrorist MRCZ on the station?  Nah.  They engaged with the homunculus I cobbled together out of their disparate memories and sent tottering towards them, and caused the emergence of new fictional possibilities that I had not foreseen, and they made interesting creative actions as consequences of their engagement, and in S. and R.'s cases there were substantial in-game rewards for their character's actions and personal rewards for working with the game's mechanics (if their laughter, smiles, excited voices, etc. can be considered reliable indicators of what are unarguably private, interior states).


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 21, 2010, 05:35:48 PM
Quote
I hope to draw some conclusions from our 3 sessions of play

We have had to cut it at two.  But broad conclusions are
- use the memory mash-up as scenario prep: the text as it stands and the procedures it recommends work well
- give the players time to get a feel for the mechanics
- the reward systems encourage players to do interesting things with memories, including other players' memories
- don't make everything a card-resolved conflict/seek out high-stakes conflicts for the deployment of the mechanic
This became apparent when I had the X-Altar's talk to a MRCZ that wanted to experience what it was like fighting a 0-G battle with security bots (they have lunatic dreams about messing with the station).  The X-Altar's had arranged a space and were looking to provide an experience.  I was about to use a Negotiation challenge to work out the details, but it seemed forced: each knew exactly what the other had to offer and there was little room for wiggling.  Everyone was ready to go and there seemed no fictional or player stakes involved. When one of the players suggested enlisting the help of a MRCZ that had access to combat robots, I invented the COMBOTS and created a challenge where there was plenty of wiggle room for compromise and there were high stakes (20 flow risked by a low-flow character).  Kotoru won the challenge by offering X-Altar's participation in the upcoming SOjurners battle with 0-G security bots.  And he offered the inclusion of kick-ass combat bots as a gift to the SOjurners.  This act of gifting allowed his depleted flow to rise. 

Kudos to Jared and Luke: bidding mechanics have a long history in card games and in game-like economic behaviour.  It is nice to see them implemented in both the mechanics and the fiction of an RPG.

Quote
I want to engage the game's fiction and mechanics for memories, especially in relationship to the game's fiction and mechanics for dealing with the spread of ideas.

Mechanically: the characters created a promo video out of the video feed from a combat where Kotoru's hand-made ninja stars were deployed.  It was an excuse to try the group challenge mechanics.  They created a lame commercial using Thin Slicing and it only engaged 1 MRCZ.  As I had made up several MRCZ names using the session prep rules, I chose one of them to be fans of X-Altar.  So a connection between the SOjurners and X-Altar (in addition to the friendship between the SOjurners' Tekla and X-Altar's Caeceilia) was forged.

Fictionally:  The players were working the divide between letting people know what they were up to and reserving choice memories and experiences for their discerning customers.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 21, 2010, 05:36:08 PM
Oh yeah:

I really, really, really had fun.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] wrap up
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 22, 2010, 07:22:43 AM
Some more notes:

- If you want back up for areas where you have no expertise or geneline you should go for Tech NOT Interface.  My advice during user creation was bollocks.  Interface can help you be really, really cyber good at the stuff your Experiences and Geneline have prepared you for.  But if you are out of your comfort zone, your only option is to Burn that interface and if your interface has no tag relevant to the current conflict, it fries and is not reset at the end of the session.  Use cool tech for your ace in the hole, hail mary, get outta jail free card

- Players became aware of this and could easily have played out in-game actions to get them the desired tech.  The game allows the posthumans to compensate suboptimal user-creation choices.  And bad advice from the superuser.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on August 28, 2010, 05:42:53 AM
I believe I maintained proper tact here and let the players come up with the concept for their mini-corporation.  I did put my foot down and rule out a name that would have been to unwieldy ("Exxxtreeeeeeeme!!!"). 

That's a perfectly fine name for a MRCZ, btw. USERS? DO YOU HEAR ME?

They can always change it if they do well in the next MRCZ review.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 29, 2010, 05:44:02 AM
Ok, you fit
"?????????????????????????
???????????????????????????
???????????????????????????
???????????????????????????
???????????????????????????
??????????"
in the little box you provided for MRCZ names.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] continuing to make flubs
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 29, 2010, 05:49:46 AM
In the first game we ran a number of group challenges and the users were always careful about using victory levels to get flow rebate.

Thus people were always getting out of challenges with at least everything they staked.

But I got careless and started acting as ever EVERY victorious challenge got you your stake back.  No, no, no.  Unless you pay for rebate you LOSE flow.  And that cost gets pretty expensive when you undertake solo challenges.

So I was really softening the economics of flow.  Going by the rules forces players to be proactive about setting up flow-friendly fiction.  The game risks becoming a simple card game if the driver "must get flow to fund the challenges that could create the reality my character's wants" is short circuted.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] Fan-Expo Results
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 30, 2010, 05:13:36 AM
Had a BLAST!

Again, big thanks to Rob who made the pilgrimage to Gen Con and brought back the game and loaned it to me until mine arrives.

2 play sessions:

A) Shaking out the system (40 minute demo)

We took three of the pre-gens from the box and set them against and vicious Freemer exploiting immigrants.  When the Martian immigrant Sensar got off the boat, the first thing he did was seek out a serving of "mac and cheese w. vat-grown salmon -- just like back home."  A Mars cuisine MRCZ gave him a big bowlfull in return for videoing his effusive praise of their product.

Just then a mysterious ninja attack (Ninja 12, a user from my trial-run games) attempted to wetwork the innocent newcomer with her stretching arms. 

Luckily, a vat-grown physicist instructed to escort this newcomer to his MRCZ, and a tough detective trying to bust up a vult ring, waded into the fray.  The Martian's armour-reinforced worksuit, the Blank's agile flipping through the crowds in the Hole, and a punch/gyrojet combo to the face (coupled with some super clever phrases from the user) resolved that group challenge in the good guys' favour.

A fun intro to the game.

B) The Whole Magilla

Character and MRCZ creation.

A bunch of artistic flood/bleeders who provide simulated memories of vacations AND cultivating/recycling souvenirs to back up those memories.

I had no time for thoughtful prep, but the game shook out pretty well. 

This game featured interesting inter-party conflict
* the immigrant graphic designer had his precious set of horsehair brushes taken by the cultivator MRCZ mate
* moreover the immigrant hooked up with a woman who wanted to get at the Cultivator (Gnomadic was her name).
He didn't want to be manipulated and got away only slightly messed with during a shaping challenge.  But the player chose to have his character keep mum about the exchange.  He stayed mum, even when Gnomadic was Frownied by the woman (Theresa Splenda).

The game got a little scrambled as some folks ran off to get autographs and do other con-related things and their characters where handed about.  Both the immigrant designer and Gnomadic passed through the hands of a late arrival to our game.





Title: Re: [Freemarket] Fan-Expo Results (cont.)
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on August 30, 2010, 05:36:34 AM
[Do not confuse "Post" and "Preview"]

The Virtual Reality & Flooding/Bleeding specialist -- Jacob's Ladder 456 -- pushed his MRCZ towards their "space" goal by making a deal with his former mentor Dr. Magnetic.  Magnetic was hosting a big disco party where the guests would include the snotty art collective "Ecstatic Indifference."  Jacob's Ladder 456 won a narrow victory over Magnetic and morphed one of his memories into "I promised a fun Neo-Industrial Folk Music party for Ecstatic Indifference at The Belgian Chocoworks" [the theme of the con was Steampunk so there was a lot of brass/steam/clock-work in the games].

So JL456 got his crew an in on one of large event spaces on the donut.  A parallel challenge saw an attempt by some MRCZ members to spread a "Disco is Dead" meme but that failed soundly.

The party featured
* the MRCZ's musician/performer/Ephemerist on Axe-shaped guitar
* JL456 playing a glass organ where the sound was provided by exploding jets of gas, and controlled in theremin style
* a recycled tech creation melding a self-directed infiltrator hand with self-propelled disco roller skates, which manipulated a hand-puppet version of Sara MacLaughlan singing the neo-folk tune

It was a tense moment.  The MRCZ wanted to make a splash.  Moreover, the Wetwork MRCZ 12 Mexicans had beef with the players' MRCZ: they had been perfect deathed by one of Gnomadic's creations, subjected to a humiliation at the hands of the players in a viral video of the event, and one of their members (Theresa Splenda) had a rivalry with Gnomadic as well.

But instead of creating a super cool work of art that proved their skills, they lost.  Big time.  (Thank you, sweet sweet bug chips for letting the Superuser rock).  The memory produced was
"The Travel Agency made colossal asses of themselves at the Belgian Chockoworks."
The 12 Mexicans (fans of the movie Machete) didn't have to go violent.  They walked out of there revenged and satisfied.
Moreover, the event cost the players a lot of flow.
- Gnomadic was voted off of the station
- the immigrant got a reprieve
- the musician got a reprieve
- JL456 had his flow reset to 1

Although I didn't have a lot of prep time, the memory mash-up technique gave me a starting place.  And the MRCZ mates all had short-term memories involving each other's memories so the inter-group dynamic was lively.

All I had to do was have Dr. Magnetic send his thieving robo-hand against The Travel Agency to get the contested paint brushes and it was ON.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: lachek on September 03, 2010, 08:44:53 AM
I sat it on the last 30 minutes of this game (played Gnomadic, evidently extremely poorly, as I was jettisoned off Freemarket due to my creations going haywire). The colour was a lot of fun and the artifacts of the game (both physical and fictional) are extremely evocative.

The challenge mechanics seemed simultaneously impenetrable and trivial to me. I had no idea what choices were available to me or what my odds were, but it appeared from the other players' input that there was almost always a "right" move to make. To use board game lingo, it seemed a game of near-zero information, yet there was only one move that made sense at any given time. A bit like Monopoly - I have no way of knowing what the dice will roll, nor what card I might pick up if I land on the ? space, but if I don't buy this property I've landed on I'm an idiot.

I recognize this is likely due to me stepping into the game with precious little knowledge of rules, characters, situation, cards left in the deck, etcetera, while I was setting up to run Lacuna (no end of Jared-love at FanExpo apparently). It'd be interesting to hear a bit more about the tactics of the conflict system, though - is it mostly about card counting and initiating challenges selectively in order to burn through bad cards (when you don't care so much about the stakes), or do the choices you make during conflicts greatly affect the outcome?

Also, how do the incremental moves taken in a conflict play out in the fiction? There doesn't seem to be any method of granting bonuses to using geneline tags, tech, or whatever in a way that's especially creative or suitable, nor the other way around. What is preventing me (other than "not being a dick") from using a piece of tech or a geneline tag that's just plain stupid, given the fictional content in play, offering a contrived justification, and thereby reducing the buy-in into the shared fictional experience? If all options are available to me at all times, and I'm making my move exclusively based on what's tactically sound, this seems to have the potential to compromise the integrity of the fiction.

I only ask these questions because I'm really excited about Freemarket's premise, by the way - not to knock the game in any way.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on September 06, 2010, 10:30:32 AM
Quote
The challenge mechanics seemed simultaneously impenetrable and trivial to me. I had no idea what choices were available to me or what my odds were, but it appeared from the other players' input that there was almost always a "right" move to make.

Mechanical Choices
* My Strengths vs. My Initial Cards
- Let us say that I have pulled 2 Geneline cards for take action, and 1 Freemarket Card
- Let's also say I have a Geneline rating of 2 and a Relevant Experience of 3
a) Do I Take Action with Geneline or Experience?
- With Geneline I have 2 points at the top, and then 2 more Go for It actions
- As I stand, I only have 1 point if I Take Action with Experience, but a possible 3 Go for Its
b) Once I have taken action, what follow-up actions do I take?
- If I am doing well with Geneline, do I dedicate a turn to switching over to Experience, and run the risk of someone calling?
- vice versa?
* Sacrificing Ephemeral Pools (see Fred Hicks' terms here: http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=26386.0 (http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=26386.0))
- If I have bug chips do I spend them right away in this conflict?
- Do I wait until I have run out of Go For It actions before using bugs to get cards?
* Sacrificing Slow Accretion Pools (see the same Hicks' post)
- Do you burn challenge-relevant Interface and have it out of commission until the end of the session?
- Do you burn challenge-irrelevant Interface and have it out of commission until you get Recycled or re-Mobbed, or re-dubbed (depending on the quality of your backup)?
- Are you willing to burn out Experience or Tech to win?  Rebuilding will be tough as Experience is a seriously Slow Accretion pool


Quote
It'd be interesting to hear a bit more about the tactics of the conflict system, though - is it mostly about card counting and initiating challenges selectively in order to burn through bad cards

Card counting didn't come into it much for me as the superuser -- I kept cycling through my deck too damn fast.  Card counting might influence how long you stay in a challenge but I don't think it will motivate folks to set up challenges just to get to a good place in their decks.  So much flow is at risk all the time that stepping up to folks just to let loose with a statistical bulge of Freemarket cards in your challenge deck would be really suboptimal.

Quote
[1]Also, how do the incremental moves taken in a conflict play out in the fiction?[2] There doesn't seem to be any method of granting bonuses to using geneline tags, tech, or whatever in a way that's especially creative or suitable, nor the other way around. [3]What is preventing me (other than "not being a dick") from using a piece of tech or a geneline tag that's just plain stupid, given the fictional content in play, offering a contrived justification, and thereby reducing the buy-in into the shared fictional experience? [4]If all options are available to me at all times, and I'm making my move exclusively based on what's tactically sound, this seems to have the potential to compromise the integrity of the fiction.

1 I don't know.  Sometimes players say "My Analytic tag from Geneline means I can analyze the flaws in Larry's proposition."  Sometimes I get a lengthier description or "in character" speech.  I never get people just saying "I use that Geneline tag thingie again."  Now there is no real mechanical reason to go beyond the robotic recitation of relevant tags, but the rules do say "describe what you do" (IIRC).  Even if there is no directly relevant currency bonus/penalty for failing to do so, if the rules set says "follow procedure X," follow it.
2 Geneline IS creative reward.  Players invent Geneline tags, so objects of their invention are having in-game effects.  Experience is mechanically limited so creative description does not enter into it.  Think of the closely-described skills in Burning Empires with their definitive lists of what skill can help with what.  Tech is 1/3 closely-described and 2/3 player invented.  If the player came up with clever Tags for tech, he or she can burn it in a conflict.  But that really reduces the Tech's effectiveness.  So player creativity provides an edge and some wiggle room.  As to bonuses: I'll give you an "Attaboy" if you did something clever, or your fellow players might.  But that boosts your Flow so you have more options for Flow wagers, it doesn't help in the resolution mechanics (although players wagering bids is just as game-mechanical as using dice as randomizers: wagering and bluffing in Poker do not take place outside of the game, they are PART of the game).  The only way to instant reward another player is to hand over bug chips.
3 Superuser has final say over what is relevant in a Geneline.  If you want to use your cleverly tagged Repair Kit in a Thin Slicing challenge, even with a strained justification, I won't play hard ass: you can burn it out to a cinder for all I care.  Stupid sub-optimal use of Tech results in the burn out of that tech pretty quick.  People are only willing to mis/dumb use Tech in desperation.  The reaction of the fiction creators should be: "Wow! Zivex of the Taters MRCZ must have been nuts to use his Microwaveable Popcorn in that Wetwork challenge.  You should've seen his flameout!"
4 Hmmm.  You have a wide variety of options.  You will always being weighing what you want to have happen against an easier chance of victory in a group challenge where you will be more likely to win but have less say in the outcome.  And if your character in the fiction really, really wants to implant that memory, then you might be justified burning out tech, stretching your mind and body to the limit, in order to get that memory implanted, even if the numbers on your character sheet say you would have a greater chance of victory in Wetwork.



I only ask these questions because I'm really excited about Freemarket's premise, by the way - not to knock the game in any way.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: lachek on September 07, 2010, 12:02:57 PM
Hi Erik! That all makes sense. The GM having an explicit final word on appropriate uses of Geneline tags (while being generous with the interpretation) sounds good. I suppose it would've resonated with me more, and thus felt less contrived, if I'd been the one to actually make the character in the first place and grokked its "aboutness".

The bennies in the form of Attaboys and bugchips were also lost to me with my limited exposure, and definitely makes a difference.

Regarding tech, you say:
If you want to use your cleverly tagged Repair Kit in a Thin Slicing challenge, even with a strained justification, I won't play hard ass: you can burn it out to a cinder for all I care.  Stupid sub-optimal use of Tech results in the burn out of that tech pretty quick.  People are only willing to mis/dumb use Tech in desperation.

Is it the case that only sub-optimal (as defined by the SU, I suppose) Tech requires burning out to be effective? Or do you have to burn out Tech even when it's highly appropriate, like a Repair Kit in a straight-up Recycling challenge?


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on September 07, 2010, 05:57:59 PM
No, if your Tech is tagged for the Experience at work in a particular challenge, you just use it at first. 

So I have a weird "Neurowhip," Rated 3 and it is tagged Wetwork/Electrified Whip/Painful.

If I am in a Wetwork challenge I can Go For It 3 times with that device.

But if I have "Hand Blender" Rated 3 and it is tagged Cultivation/Portable food processor/Good for Smoothies, I can start burning it but it will give me a maximum of 3 cards, if I chuck them out 1 by 1 or divvy them up some other way.
I don't have the rules in front of me right now, but I could see some justification in the "Portable food processor" tag.  So you can burn that tech in the current Wetwork challenge, but that just won't be as effective as using the correctly tagged experience.

Someone help me.  Luke?  Jared?  I can't give any definitive answers 'cause I am still WAITING FOR MY COPY!



Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on September 07, 2010, 05:59:01 PM
Quote
The challenge mechanics seemed simultaneously impenetrable and trivial to me. I had no idea what choices were available to me or what my odds were, but it appeared from the other players' input that there was almost always a "right" move to make.

Mechanical Choices
* My Strengths vs. My Initial Cards
- Let us say that I have pulled 2 Geneline cards for take action, and 1 Freemarket Card
- Let's also say I have a Geneline rating of 2 and a Relevant Experience of 3

This was assuming that you had paid one bug chip for the privilege of starting out with 3 cards.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on September 08, 2010, 12:44:56 PM
I don't have the rules in front of me right now, but I could see some justification in the "Portable food processor" tag.  So you can burn that tech in the current Wetwork challenge, but that just won't be as effective as using the correctly tagged experience.

Someone help me.  Luke?  Jared?  I can't give any definitive answers 'cause I am still WAITING FOR MY COPY!

Remember: burning deletes your opponent's points. It doesn't give you points.

You can burn anything in any challenge. You just have to justify it (to the group, btw... the superuser is a player in the game but everyone can weigh in). And like you said, in a relevant challenge you can go for it using tech (drawing from the tech deck).


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on September 08, 2010, 03:02:44 PM
Errrrp..

Right, a user makes a sacrifice from slow-accretion pools (Experience, Interface, etc.) in order to weaken the fast-accretion pool your opponent has accumulated (the points).


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on September 08, 2010, 03:07:29 PM
Errrrp..

Right, a user makes a sacrifice from slow-accretion pools (Experience, Interface, etc.) in order to weaken the fast-accretion pool your opponent has accumulated (the points).


WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU SAYING?
(insert picture of Jules from Pulp Fiction)


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on September 09, 2010, 02:55:46 AM
WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU SAYING?
(insert picture of Jules from Pulp Fiction)

Guy, I am totally re sub-referencing a link I previously made to Fred Hicks' generic terms for types of resources employed in game mechanics.

(insert picture of weary teacher pointing to something written on blackboard a moment before, and to which the indignant student appears to have not paid attention)


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on September 09, 2010, 02:58:06 AM
Quote
Remember: burning deletes your opponent's points. It doesn't give you points.

Who makes the choice?  Does the player with the Interface reach out and yoink the card, or does the opponent make the choice?


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on September 09, 2010, 06:40:13 AM
(insert picture of weary teacher pointing to something written on blackboard a moment before, and to which the indignant student appears to have not paid attention)

Uh, dude. I graduated years ago. I'm only back to give an inspirational lecture to the middle schoolers.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on September 09, 2010, 06:41:52 AM
Quote
Remember: burning deletes your opponent's points. It doesn't give you points.

Who makes the choice?  Does the player with the Interface reach out and yoink the card, or does the opponent make the choice?

I usually let the target pick which card he gets to delete but ultimately, it doesn't matter. You can only get rid of point-scoring cards and there's no difference between an FM card, a geneline card, an experience card or a tech card once that card has scored a point.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on September 09, 2010, 07:43:47 AM
I am getting you.

BTW I am doing my best not to skip out on work this afternoon and rushing down to the post office to pick up my copy of FM.

I love you sorencrane.


Title: Re: [Freemarket] X-Altar and the Arts of Memory and of Promotion
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on September 12, 2010, 06:54:23 AM
Continuing to Thin-Slice this AP

1) Bug Chips are NOT Bennies
WRONG: I said that players can pass these around bug chips to help
CORRECTION: If players gain some in-fiction help from and NPC they get 1 bug chip to represent the help

2) Support does NOT add more "Go For It" actions
WRONG: I said you could switch from a series of Go For Its based on your initial choice of Geneline or Experience and then switch to the other and thereby extend your contest..
CORRECTION: You pick one method of Going For It at the start.  Let's say Geneline.  Now, if a whole lotta Experience shows up, you will want to try a Support action to make those cards count.  But you do NOT re-open a series of Go For Its.  Support makes previously useless cards count.  But it doesn't get you more cards.

I like the mission patch.